Gray gives Haidt credit for overcoming the recently voguish "primitive type of rationalism" that so often ignores the strength and value of our irrational or extra-rational nature; he acknowledges that the conscious mind is like a rider on a strong, beautiful animal. Still, he faults Haidt for his emphasis on group morality:
Understanding morality as a group phenomenon neglects the fact that human groups are complex, historically shifting, and internally conflicted. Tribes and nations are not natural kinds of things like genes and blood types. They are historical constructions whose existence depends on human recognition. Human beings rarely, if ever, belong to only one group. One of the tasks of morality is to arbitrate the clashing loyalties that regularly arise from the many group identities that human beings possess. In some cases, morality may lead people to put aside group loyalties altogether.Gray also argues that Haidt's functionalist definition of morality leaves him in a number of unresolved difficulties:
There is a slippage from “is” to “ought” in nearly all evolutionary theorizing, with arguments about natural behavior sliding into claims about the human good. It may be true—though any account of how precisely this occurred can at present be little more than speculation—that much of what we see as morality evolved in a process of natural selection. That does not mean that the results must be benign.Gray cautions against Haidt's naive confidence that evolutionary psychology can resolve the conflict between utilitarianism and pluralism:
Issues such as abortion and gay marriage are not bitterly disputed because legislators have failed to apply a utilitarian calculus. They are bitterly disputed because a substantial part of the population rejects utilitarian ethics. . . . . Haidt appears not to grasp the importance of the fact that intuitionism and utilitarianism are rivals, and not only in moral philosophy. They are also at odds in practice. Making public policies on a basis of utilitarian reasoning requires a high degree of convergence, not diversity, in moral intuitions. Such policies will not be accepted as legitimate if they violate deep-seated and widely held intuitions regarding, for example, sexuality and the sanctity of human life. . . . Once again seemingly unaware of the depth of the problems he is addressing, Haidt tells us that such conflicts will not arise, or else they will be soon overcome, as long as people are brought together in the right way.A good review should either warn you not to waste your time, or inspire you to acquire the book and spend time ploughing through it. This review is tipping me toward the investment of time and effort.